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In the United States, skiing and snowboarding are among the most popular winter sports. In fact, one survey shows that in 2017 there were about 14.9 million skiers and another 7.6 million snowboarders in the United States.

Add to those numbers the many millions of people who love other cold-weather outdoor activities or just work outside in snowy climates. We like to get outside during winter, no doubt about it. And that’s where a good pair of snow pants comes into play, because they can keep you both warm and dry in even the coldest, wettest conditions. When shopping for snow pants, consider these important factors.



While some people prefer uninsulated snow pants, they typically require wearing more layers underneath, making them less comfortable. Insulated pants, which are great at keeping you warm even in very cold weather, typically feature light, low-profile synthetic insulation to add extra warmth. How much insulation you need will depend largely on two things—how cold it is likely to be where you will be wearing them, and how active you’ll be. If the weather is typically not too frigid and you’ll be moving around a lot, you might require only minimal insulation. On the other hand, if you are going to wear them in arctic-like weather or will be standing or sitting much of the time, you’ll need snow pants with a high insulation level.



Waterproofing is critical in snow pants because staying dry is the only way to stay warm. There’s even a rating system so pants can be effectively compared by shoppers before making a purchase. Many snow pants have a waterproof rating between 5,000 and 20,000mm. The higher the number of the rating, the more waterproof the pants will be. Needs vary by where you intend to wear the pants and what activity you will be participating in when wearing them. Suffice it to say that it’s always better to have pants with too high a waterproof rating than too low, since getting wet and cold will make you miserable and can even lead to hypothermia.

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It might sound trivial, but pockets are actually an important feature to consider. People who carry lots of gear, tools or personal items with them will need more pockets than those who don’t have lots of things to carry. Fit is also critical. Choose a size that will be comfortable, because a pair of tight or ill-fitting snow pants will just push you to go home early.